In “The Sound of Music” by Rogers and Hammerstein, the nuns sing, “How do you solve a problem like Maria?” In Mission Hill, the answer is…with two Marias and Michel. On Oct. 29 a neighborhood fundraiser was held at the Puddingstone to benefit the victims of Hurricane Maria that recently devastated the island of Puerto Rico. Maria Sanchez, Maria Alamo, and Michel Soltani commiserated about the plight of Puerto Rican friends and loved ones. Paraphrasing other lyrics from that famous play, character Maria sings, “I go to the hills when my heart is lonely. I know I will hear what I heard before.” Our three amigos went to (Mission) Hill and heard generosity. They organized a late afternoon benefit that yielded over $10,000 prior to the first attendee entering the pub. Local state Rep. Jeffrey Sanchez and Councilor Josh Zakim attended along with a who’s who of locals too numerous to list. The selflessness of the Mission Hill community never fails to “Climb every mountain” when tough times fall on others.
Roxbury reveled this past Tuesday at the celebration of ghouls and ghosts with Halloween on the Hill sponsored by the Mission Hill Youth Collaborative (MHYC). Hundreds of goblins large and small enjoyed the spooky sojourn through the expanded haunted house at the Tobin Community Center while next door, the little ones rode ponies. Costumed mobs of kiddos solicited bags of candy at local businesses manned by college volunteers from Wentworth Institute of Technology and graduate students from Harvard’s Chan School of Public Health, MissionSAFE, and ABCD. The Tobin Center’s John Jackson and his outstanding staff are nothing short of brilliant in putting this event together each October.
Face painting, games, music, a drum circle from Sociedad Latina, pumpkins and apples from the farmers market and the Health Movement, and even free toothbrushes from Great Hill Dental were presented. Local businesses opening their decorated doors this year include the Mission Bar, Lilly’s Gourmet Pasta, Kush Groove Apparel, The Puddingstone, Boston Green Realty, Sully’s Barbershop, Halal Indian Cuisine, Mike’s Donuts, the Milkweed Bistro, and Penguin Pizza. Thank you to the wide array of institutions and groups who donated money and volunteers to make our 2017 Halloween on the Hill such a success for the children. Nobody does it like us.
Another annual mainstay, the Mission Hill Road Race, was a huge hit this past Oct. 21. Runners and walkers of all abilities dashed their way through the hilly course while neighbors cheered them from sidewalks and front porches. Proceeds from the event go to the upkeep of the breathtaking Kevin Fitzgerald Park off of St. Alphonsus Street. The mayor and the local pols were there, as well as oldsters, youngsters, and students who’ve developed a genuine affection for this urban gem of a neighborhood. The colleges competed for the Pudding Pot trophy and prizes are awarded for various ages and levels.
In the coming weeks the neighborhood will add a new business to its inventory in the ground floor of Mitch Wilson’s gorgeous newly constructed building next to the Tobin Center at 1467 Tremont St. I’ve seen the plans underway for Mission Hill Yoga and this state of the art studio will be a fine addition to this attractive new address. Owners Cassandra Foster and Jason Brownhill are excited about moving into the area and tell me that the neighbors they have met couldn’t be more welcoming. My prediction is they will be enormously successful.
This coming Nov. 28 marks the 75th anniversary of the infamous Cocoanut Grove Fire in Park Square. Many of today’s young people have no idea that the deadliest nightclub fire in history killing 492 people took place in our beloved city. When I was a child, the horror stories recounted were as vivid as the World Trade Center is for Bostonians today. My aunt and uncle (a sailor home on leave from WWII) went there that night to celebrate their engagement and miraculously survived despite their extensive burns. My playmates father (who lived three doors away) was a teenaged dishwasher who managed to escape and pull others to safety through the Grove’s cellar windows. The memory of the scars adorning those who survived the conflagration remain very real to me. The tragedy prompted reform of building safety standards still used today throughout the country. Medical treatment and rehabilitation of burn injuries developed in our Boston hospitals proved invaluable in treating the countless injuries shortly thereafter in the Second World War.
Transcendentalist philosopher Henry David Thoreau said, “I am grateful for what I am and have, my thanksgiving is perpetual.” Thanksgiving has always been my favorite day. (Perhaps, it is because I had to be away for a few during military service.) This uniquely American celebration focuses on family and friends gathering around a sumptuous meal and expressing gratitude for their good fortune. Please accept my gratitude for your kindnesses and have a wonderful holiday.